JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Biweekly pay for state employees cleared its first legislative hurdle when a House committee voted to send the bill forward Monday.
Rep. Dave Griffith's HB 2090 would allow state employees to be paid biweekly rather than on the 1st and 16th of the month, increasing the number of pay periods from 24 to 26 in a typical year.
The 11-member House Workforce Development Committee unanimously voted the bill out of committee with no amendments attached Monday afternoon, a week after first hearing the proposal.
"It's always good to see bipartisan support and unanimous approval from a committee," Griffith said. "Now we focus on getting it through to the floor, and I'm sure we can get the necessary number of votes to get this passed along to the Senate."
Griffith said he would work with House leadership to get the bill before the whole chamber as quickly as possible to ensure it passes with ample time to go through the process on the other side of the building. He said he hoped to see the House vote it out by the time lawmakers leave the Capitol for their legislative spring break in mid-March.
Griffith's bill must pass a House Rules committee before making it to the House floor.
The proposal received support from members of both parties during a hearing last Monday as lawmakers touted it as a way to allow state employee more flexibility to budget for regular expenses and emergencies. As noted by committee Chairman Rep. Mike Henderson, R-Bonne Terre, the change would not require additional state funds to implement.
Rep. Bridget Walsh Moore, D-St. Louis, called the proposal a "no-brainer."
Similar measures have been proposed by lawmakers from both chambers and parties, though none have made it to the governor's desk for a signature. Sen. Mike Bernskoetter, R-Jefferson City, sponsored the same language in the Senate as SB 997 this session, though it has yet to be assigned to a committee.
Griffith said he wasn't sure why prior attempts had failed to make it despite frequent bipartisan support, though he said a heightened focus on state employees this session could work in its favor.
Griffith has been a vocal proponent of the proposed wage increase alongside other local lawmakers. Gov. Mike Parson included a 5.5 percent cost of living adjustment (COLA) and a $15 an hour minimum wage increase for state employees in his supplemental budget request, seeking to combat high turnover rates.
He joined Bernskoetter and Rep. Rudy Veit, R-Wardsville, on a letter to their colleagues in the Missouri House before session began encouraging them to approve the proposal and named it among their top priorities before the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce.
Comments on the proposal led to a standing ovation from lawmakers at Parson's State of the State address, and budget leaders in both chambers of the Legislature have voiced their support for it. The adjustments have yet to see legislative action beyond an initial House Budget Committee hearing.
Griffith suggested last week the pay schedule change and wage adjustments could make it through together.
Missouri is home to more than 50,000 state employees, according to the Office of Administration. About 14,000 of them live in the Jefferson City area, according to statistics from the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce.
HB 2090: Allows state employees to be paid biweekly
Sponsor: Rep. Dave Griffith